Odds are you or someone you know have felt the pain of a sprained ankle. Most athletes have faced the injury at one time or another. It happens easily – take one wrong step, a little twist, and a sudden, sharp pain is felt. Suddenly your ankle is weak, swollen, and hard to use. Sprains are inconvenient injuries. They are uncomfortable enough to slow us down, but rarely debilitating enough to seek immediate treatment. Athletes are often tempted to push through their pain, but with a sprain, using the injured leg can lead to complications and serious injuries later.
Sprain Means Tissue Damage
A sprain occurs when the ankle twists and the ligaments, tendons, or muscles around the ankle become strained or tear slightly. The joint swells, becomes weak and painful, and may also bruise. The instability that results from the injury makes it hard for the ankle to support weight. A sprain can range from mild to severe at the moment you injure it. Even if it is mild initially, with continued use and no treatment, the affected tissues may degenerate which often causes complications.
The Risks You Run
Because these injuries occur when the ankle twists in a way it’s not supposed to, activities that involve sudden stops or starts, rapid direction changes, and jumps are high risk for this kind of ankle damage. Any wrong footfall, though, could torque the joint and strain the connecting tissues.
Once you’ve sprained your ankle, it is important to seek treatment and care for it. If the injury continues to be stressed, the affected ligaments, tendons, or muscles could tear more or rupture completely, requiring serious intervention to heal. Chronic ankle weakness and instability could also result, leaving you vulnerable to further damage in the future.
Road to Recovery
Any ankle injury should be evaluated to make sure it isn’t fractured or the connecting tissues didn’t tear completely. Once Dr. Timson from Community Foot Clinic of McPherson has determined that a sprain has occurred and its severity, you are able to move forward with treatment. Most important is to rest and reduce inflammation in the joint. Icing, compression, and elevation are effective in lowering the swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin are also helpful—ask your doctor before use.
A severe sprain may require immobilization as it heals. For a short while after the injury, using a brace during athletic activities may help keep the joint stable and prevent re-damaging it until the affected tissues are strong enough on their own.
Sprains may seem simple at the outset, but they can cause you serious pain and weakness later if not dealt with properly. If you have sprained your ankle, don’t avoid dealing with it! Deciding to “push through” a sprain could mean you are sidelined by a worse problem later. Don’t ignore continuing pain in your foot or ankle when you can find relief and prevent future conditions by treating it now.
For an appointment or more information, contact Dr. Trent Timson of Community Foot Clinic of McPherson by calling (620) 241-3313, or by visiting the contact or appointment request pages on the website.